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Pirates? Hollywood Sets $10+ Billion Box Office Record (torrentfreak.com)
100 points by cyphersanctus 1754 days ago | hide | past | web | 97 comments | favorite



The problem with film piracy isn't box office records- blockbusters will always generate great revenue, and this year was one full of blockbusters.

The problem is that independent filmmakers are hit harder by piracy than the blockbusters. And piracy causes Hollywood studios to be less likely to back indie films, causing them to instead favor low hanging fruit, projects with mass appeal that will generate the most revenue regardless of piracy, instead of independent projects that may be more bold and creative, but would have more to lose from piracy. See here:

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/28/business/la-fi-ct-fi...


That's not always the case. For example, the independent movie "The Man From Earth", gained a lot of attention that it otherwise wouldn't have, due to piracy, leading to the producer thanking the pirates:

http://torrentfreak.com/producer-thanks-pirates-for-stealing...


That's one movie really worth watching :)


90% of movie theaters already avoid independent films. If you're independent, why not distribute online? I bet a majority of "pirates" will pay instead of downloading a dubious torrent. You're not going to make money off hollywood distributors anyway.

Regarding the article, out of those 60.000, how many would have gone to the movies to watch it? I watch a lot of indie films just because it's easy, while I wouldn't go out to a small crumpled theater downtown to see it, even if it was free. That's the MPAA math and it doesn't add up.

See http://www.indiegamethemovie.com/


> I bet a majority of "pirates" will pay instead of downloading a dubious torrent.

Yes, that would be true if movie torrents were "dubious", but the vast majority aren't. You don't have to be a genius to find a genuine copy of a movie, indie or blockbuster, on torrents. It's actually quite straightforward.

Though no one wants to talk about it, this is the real reason why Steam has succeeded in such a big way where services for other types of content haven't, and is one of the reasons why I don't think movie and music piracy can be reduced to the same degree Steam has cut into PC video game piracy.

Pirating and installing a video game can actually be quite difficult. You have to use keygens, cracks, and patches to remove the copy protection - executables can be difficult to use and may be deleted on accident by antivirus software for containing malware (because cracks and patches are used to do things seen in malware - modifying other executables, for example). Many people may not want to deal with that.

More importantly, you also have to manually torrent and install updates - a true pain in the ass when games these days are often released with many bugs intact, since updates can easily be issued over the internet. And equally important is that you often miss out on multiplayer features that require a genuine key.


You have to know what to look for. Torrent tracker sites are full of advertising that look like download buttons. My girlfriend still gets lost after a decade of web browsing.

You also have to choose the correct quality, or decide between filesize/quality. Check that audio is good. If you're watching with non-native english speakers, go hunting for a subtitle track that syncs with your chosen file... not straightforward at all.

For most people it's easier to download a .exe and click next/ok blindly than do all those steps. I believe the Steam model would fare quite well with the movie/music industry, though netflix or amazon instant might win.


> You have to know what to look for. Torrent tracker sites are full of advertising that look like download buttons. My girlfriend still gets lost after a decade of web browsing.

This is a completely separate issue that can be easily solved with Adblock. Everyone I know uses it, even those who don't know much about tech.

I just searched for the most pirated movie of 2012, Project X, on Google. I typed in "project x torrent". The first link took me to a Pirate Bay page for a DVD rip[0], while the second link was for a HD version. You would have to be a real idiot not to know how to download from a page that clearly says "GET THIS TORRENT" in red letters. I cannot think of anyone I know who cannot do this, and there are plenty of people I know who have very little computer experience.

In fact, I find Netflix's UI quite a bit more confusing.

> You also have to choose the correct quality, or decide between filesize/quality.

Oh yes, it is so difficult to understand the difference between DVD rip and 720p Bluray rip. Come on, you deal with this same problem if you go to the store to buy a movie on disc! People are not that stupid.

> Check that audio is good.

This is 100% FUD. I have no other response. If you are downloading a DVD or Bluray rip, there is no reason to worry about audio quality.

> If you're watching with non-native english speakers, go hunting for a subtitle track that syncs with your chosen file... not straightforward at all.

Have you used a DVD or Bluray disc or Netflix lately? Is it easy to enable subtitles? Are they even included in all discs/videos?

> For most people it's easier to download a .exe and click next/ok blindly than do all those steps. I believe the Steam model would fare quite well with the movie/music industry, though netflix or amazon instant might win.

It's not a matter of whether it's easier, it's a matter of how much easier it is. It's a tradeoff between price and convenience. My point is that the tradeoff tilts in favor of the paid option for PC video gaming, but tilts in favor of piracy for movies and TV shows (for a la carte purchases).

0: http://i.imgur.com/IHu9b.png


I'll try to gloss over your disrespect and get straight to the subject. No, not everyone uses Adblock, in fact only 9-10% of users have it. The highest average is 17% for tech sites [1]. Most people have no fucking clue what that is.

I have no idea what flavor of Google you use, but piratebay is not even among the top 15 results for Project X: http://cl.ly/image/0R1K2z2V0O3z. Your search history is probably reflecting on your results.

Now look at this: http://cl.ly/image/1x302r3g383I. Tell me more about idiots.

Third, no, a lot a people have absolutely no clue about the difference between 720p/1080p. It's not about being stupid, they just don't care enough.

Fourth, there are plenty torrents around with crappy audio, either low volume, distorted or mono, specially for new releases. Your own experiences don't apply to everyone.

Finally, yes, I do use Netflix daily and subtitles are a menu click away, and available for every video. Same goes for DVD/BR, which I haven't watched in years. Clearly you don't watch subtitled movies, so what are you arguing for?

Enjoy your bubble.

[1] http://www.quora.com/What-is-the-percentage-of-Internet-user...


> No, not everyone uses Adblock, in fact only 9-10% of users have it. The highest average is 17% for tech sites [1]. Most people have no fucking clue what that is.

This doesn't change the fact that the problem can be easily solved. Your girlfriend getting lost after 10 years of browsing is something that can be solved in 10 seconds. When I said that everyone I know uses it, my point wasn't that everyone in the world uses it, it was that it's not so difficult to use Adblock that people won't use it once they're told about it.

> I have no idea what flavor of Google you use, but piratebay is not even among the top 15 results for Project X: http://cl.ly/image/0R1K2z2V0O3z. Your search history is probably reflecting on your results.

I don't know why you're seeing those results, but not only did I search in an incognito window to avoid my search history biasing my results, personally I use private torrents almost exclusively, so my Google torrent search history is quite limited.

> Now look at this: http://cl.ly/image/1x302r3g383I. Tell me more about idiots.

I have never seen that site before, nor do I recommend it to anyone that I know. There are bad sites out on the internet - who would have guessed?

> Third, no, a lot a people have absolutely no clue about the difference between 720p/1080p. It's not about being stupid, they just don't care enough.

Well, that's good, because on Netflix, most content is not even available in 1080p, and even when it is, it's not accessible on many devices. Hell, I've seen tons of stuff that isn't even in HD.

And most people can't tell the difference in quality between 720p and 1080p anyway, so what difference does it make which one they download?

> Fourth, there are plenty torrents around with crappy audio, either low volume, distorted or mono, specially for new releases. Your own experiences don't apply to everyone.

Please point me to some examples. And I'm not talking about crappy cams. I would never suggest watching a cam over going to a theater, if the experience is important for you.

The only reason for audio issues with a DVD or Bluray rip would be improper encoding, and such a release would just be ignored.

> Finally, yes, I do use Netflix daily and subtitles are a menu click away, and available for every video.

No, they are not. That is blatantly incorrect. I just logged into Netflix and opened a random TV show. There were only subtitles available in English. They only had a 4:3 480p video option. Please explain how this is an optimal experience again?

And Netflix is not really a valid comparison in any case, since the available content is horribly limited.


Maybe they only make available content which does have subtitles in the local language, and only show subtitle options relevant to the region. Could you imagine that? Or maybe I'm just delusional and all those netflix shows in portuguese only exist in my head.


I agree that Steam succeeds because it's easier than piracy, but I disagree about some of the details in that statement. I think you're overplaying the threats involved today. I pirated stuff when I was a kid, and it was relatively easy for someone who understood that scene to look for warning posts first. Today it's even easier given robust user rating and the camaraderie of pirate culture. It's very much an "us vs them" mentality, and it's hardly a solved problem.

It seems that pirates are increasingly looking to provide a better service, whereas publishers seem intent on bad practices that either directly hurt, or can be used to hurt, legitimate users. In fact, many people pirate today because they don't want DRM or required connectivity. (The next SimCity will suffer from this, but I expect pirates to not have to worry about it after a few weeks.) In the case of Assassin's Creed II pirates couple play fine, but legitimate players couldn't due to DDOS attacks on servers required to let you play even single player. And in a hilarious example, an Ubisoft developer was even found to use a hack by a release group in an official patch: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2008/07/ubisoft-drm-snafu-remi...

Given the relatively equal ease of piracy versus purchase, I would give the edge to the fact that developers are insanely integrated into the game buying community at every level. They've been blogging for years, they talk on Twitter, they visit 4chan and talk games, they even visit piracy sites themselves. Gamers like developers, and want them to succeed.

But yes, I do think Steam even has a chance because it's as easy and (mostly) as useful as piracy. Ease and use are a large part of why Napster succeeded, and why Kazaa was so popular, but it's also the reason iTunes succeeds, though people associate it mostly with music. Google Play... I don't know many who even use it.

Now, UltraVoilet is a wonderful digital attempt by film studios, on paper, but they cut their nose off to spite their face by making pack-ins that come with DVDs/Blu-Rays only guaranteed to last a year. And you can't buy from the studios, but instead a few other services that the common consumer has never heard of. Film companies really are still stuck in the past. Others have learned how to make their mediums work on the Internet, and these people have ignored the lessons.

/edit: Been looking into UV more. It's actually an even better idea than I first thought. It seems that it's the bigger stores (Google, Apple, Amazon) that don't want to go along with it. That's a shame for us as customers.


I have not pirated any video games for a long while, but installing a video game legally can be quite difficult. I recently bought the Final Fantasy 7 re-release, which forced me to create an account with square-enix, authenticate my copy online, install securerom, and log into my online account before I could boot it up.

On the other hand, obtaining that game through piracy, I have the choice of various releases, mod packs, and most games have been cracked already; the crack comes packaged when you get the game, or already applied.

The reason I buy games through Steam is because I don't want to pirate first of all, but besides that, it's because Steam keeps a library of my games, I have one login to access all of my games, I can download them again whenever I want to, they patch as needed, and I never have to think about it. When games are released for PC, they typically get released on Steam at the same time.

When I want to watch a movie, I have an Apple TV. When a movie is released, it's typically first released to theatres, then it's released on video, then sometime later it's released on iTunes. When I buy a movie on iTunes, I have to choose whether I want to watch it once or keep it forever, but I don't know if I'll like it until I've watched it. They don't give me any option to buy at a discounted rate if I've rented it before though. So my catalog is small. Many movies don't even get released on to iTunes. Through iTunes, I can only authorize a few devices, since I have an iPad, iPhone, AppleTV, and a few computers, those licences get eaten up quickly, so my wife and I can't both be authorized to the same iTunes account. This means that some of our devices are also not paired correctly, which leads to weird issues when we want to sync our devices with our libraries, because we need to keep track of which item is on which device, where it's been paired to, or else we risk having some files lost in the sync process. For a while, shows purchased initially on my AppleTV weren't available for download on my computer. Now they might be, but it's nearly impossible for me to trigger those downloads. However, shows that were downloaded to my computer could be accessed by my AppleTV to stream. Et cetera.

In the end, Steam is cool because I trust it. I trust that when I log into my steam account, I can download every game that I've ever purchased through steam. I stop having to worry about where my install files were stored, or where I put that disc. I have repurchased games in Steam just for that reason.

On the other hand, what do you use to watch movies and television shows a la carte? My own choice is iTunes. I don't trust iTunes to let me redownload all of my movies. There's no easy way to go into iTunes and see your purchases that haven't been downloaded. I'm afraid that if I arrange my syncing incorrectly I might lose my purchased content and be unable to download it again. I can't easily manage my own iTunes library because it makes it intentionally difficult to transfer a purchased item from one device to another. I would feel safer pirating because then at least I can keep a backup of all of my items stored in an understandable fashion, and never be afraid that they won't be readable because of some DRM issue.

If someone were to make a Steam for TV program, that would be incredible. I imagine a steam-like interface with Television shows in a list on the left side, an arrow that lets you expand and see seasons and episodes. Downloaded shows are Yellow, undownloaded shows are grey, unpurchased shows and seasons are dark grey. A dropdown on the top lets you group by genre. Horror, comedy, drama, whatever. Selecting a show or movie gives a synopsis in the right pane, and a list of "you may also like". The director and cast are hyperlinks, clicking them shows other shows that they have starred in or directed, as well as imdb-like info.

And you could even do other things, like invite friends to watch a show with you over the internet. You would have to watch the show at the same time as them, so you couldn't just act as a broadcaster, but you could have a chat window and yak about the movie with them as you watch it. If it was a TV show or something, maybe they would enjoy it, and maybe they don't want to wait for you to want to watch it, so they can buy it themselves. If they don't, oh well, it's no different than if they were sitting in your living room.

If someone were to make something like that, I would spend a hell of a lot more money on television than I currently do. Instead, all I have is shitty iTunes.


> I have not pirated any video games for a long while, but installing a video game legally can be quite difficult. I recently bought the Final Fantasy 7 re-release, which forced me to create an account with square-enix, authenticate my copy online, install securerom, and log into my online account before I could boot it up.

Yes, it's also difficult to manually install legally purchased games. Another reason Steam has done so well.

> If someone were to make a Steam for TV program, that would be incredible.

It's not the interface that's hard, it's getting the content deals. Steve Jobs talked about it during an interview at a conference around a year before he died. They've got the engineering talent to make it happen. What they don't have is deals with the content providers. He called it a "go-to-market problem".

The reason Apple was able to force the record labels onto iTunes is because they were getting decimated by music piracy. Particularly after portable media players (PMP) became popular, it was so easy to pirate tons of music and put it on your PMP. Album sales were plummeting and Apple promised to be their savior. The labels didn't realize at that time the kind of control they were ceding to Apple. A decade later, the labels are making a lot less money than they did back in the late 90s.

The movie and TV industry isn't nearly as desperate. Not only do people continue to go to the theaters for the bigscreen experience, it's still relatively difficult for the average person to watch pirated content on their TV, because only an HTPC really gives you full access, and those have poor UIs. Also, live content has a special value (mainly news and sports, but also some other shows nowadays, because of real-time or post-show discussion online). Another factor is that movies and TV shows are much larger files than MP3s, and American broadband speeds have largely stagnated in recent years. It takes a lot longer to pirate an HD movie in 2012 than it did to pirate an MP3 in 2001.

Finally, the movie/TV industry has seen what easy digital distribution done to the music industry. It's destroyed profits for the bigwigs at the labels. Will the movie/TV studios follow through given that? Doubtful.


They might be old examples, but 'East Great Falls' was headed straight to video, until it was "accidentally" uploaded and a few months later, after much internet buzz, was released as 'American Pie'. Similarly, 'The Blair Witch Project' was successful at the box office because it too was uploaded "accidentally". Coincidentally, both of these movies' box office release were within weeks of each other and did far better than they perhaps normally would have, if it hadn't been for piracy. Piracy can create a buzz or social network effect when friends talk about movies, that is far more substantial than simply seeing a trailer. A limited amount of piracy does help movie studios and record labels, its just they don't really know how much is helpful, before it eats into their potential revenue or profits.


This is something that does worry me. I pirate a lot, but in the past[1], I used to try to buy the product as well. This is easy for big brands, but it's much harder for the little independent movies or for the foreign movies.

And I'm not quite sure what the ethical thing to do for foreign movies is: buy product only when it's available in my region? Or try to buy in my region but buy it from another region if it's not going to be in my region ever?

The industry seems to say that I must never pirate; must never buy second hand goods; must never import from another region. (But it's only relatively that they've said that format-shifting (ripping CD to mp3 player for example) is okay.

[1] Now I don't pirate anything if there's not a realistic chance of me being able to buy it. This means I'm missing out on a lot of product, but I get to feel smug.


People do seem to like Humble Bundle too. That's a great way to advertise and get some cash as an indie.


Kick starter.


I'd love to know why movies are so incredibly expensive on iTunes, and whether anyone's experimented with pricing movies at €5 rather than the current price of €12+.

At 5 Euro, for me the price is an instant purchase, no thinking necessary. Not so at €12 or more.

I hope it's not the case, but I wonder whether there are so few people that pay for movies at any price that the studios have concluded it's just not worth it, and so keep the higher prices. Or, alternatively, there are enough people that do buy at the €12 point, again not making it worth the time to lower the price.

In conclusion: trying to work out pricing points hurts my head.


I agree.

I "rent" 3-4 movies using Amazon Instant Video every month at ~$5 per pop. Every time I do, I think "do I really want to spend $5 on this?" and I'll often just go watch whatever is recommended on Netflix (or if it's just me, SportsCenter) instead. $2 is definitely the "instant rental" price point for me.

And please none of this "Rent for $3.99 or rent for $4.99 in HD". Just give me one price and the best quality version that you can.

(For reference, I use a Roku)


> And please none of this "Rent for $3.99 or rent for $4.99 in HD". Just give me one price and the best quality version that you can.

As perhaps a reason why they'd do this. Some of us are on bandwidth caps. Watching/downloading too many HD movies can put you over your monthly cap pretty easily.

I actually like that they give the user the choice.


Sure, but why charge more? Just offer a "max resolution" setting.

The true answer lies in price discrimination.


> Sure, but why charge more?

Well twice the resolution in 2 axis is 4 times the pixels, which means higher costs. I think it's reasonable.

> The true answer lies in price discrimination.

Actually its a mix of both, price discrimination and costs. No need to be so negative.


The bandwidth will cost less than twenty cents extra, probably far less (based on a rough estimate of S3 bandwidth costs, starting $0.12/GB down to $0.05 and under at scale). Because of peering agreements, it could actually be free. Yes, I realize there's more to it than that, but the cost difference is tiny at Apple's scale.

It also feels... scammy. "For just 25% more, you can have the version that doesn't suck!" That kind of attitude does not make me want to do business with them. Of course, this is just as much the fault of the last five years of TV marketing talking about how awful anything SD is, when in practicality it's more than adequate unless you have an absurdly large screen.


> And please none of this "Rent for $3.99 or rent for $4.99 in HD". Just give me one price and the best quality version that you can.

Why not? Are you happier if they instead say "Rent for $4.99" and nothing else?

Most products come in multiple price points, do you also dislike the fact that there are cheap/expensive models of computers, cars, TVs...


I would, yes. As it stands, I only see the lowest price for each movie (and I'm not interested in this lower price). I'm only interested in the "HD" price, and getting to that info takes an extra click to the movie's info screen (and then I need to go back to the listing screen once I've seen it).

This might sound like "white people problems" but it's annoying and hurts the experience.


The entire subject is somewhat "first world problems", so ignore that.

So really your issue is with UI, maybe they could allow you to change which price point is shown to you? Because reducing down to a single price point, sure it might be good in that they're playing less mind games, but if you end up paying higher prices it surely isn't a good change.


Roku's Amazon interface is terrible with pricing. In the browse view the CTA I get is "Purchase from $2.99!"

But when you click into detail, it's actually: rent in SD for $2.99, rent in HD for $4.99, buy for $19.99.

I don't really care that much, but I can see how it comes off as scammy. If it wasn't Amazon doing it, I think a lot more people would have a problem with it.


I would be happier. It would mean they're not trying to play tricks with anchoring and they can't easily push the price up even higher later. They wouldn't have people "compromising" with the $4 version or being tricked into thinking $5 is suddenly a 'deal' because it's only a dollar!! more.


You're not the only one with a headache. Trying to work out pricing for intellectual property that's inherently a monopoly is like reading entrails. It's whatever you say it is. It's pricing based on psychology, rather than pricing based on traditional microeconomic pricing principles (like cost + x%) which are driven by competition.


If you believe any "traditional microeconomic principles" are used to set any price in 2013, you're deluded. Today, a price is what the market will bear, and nothing else.


Unfortunately, when something has legal monopoly and the monopolists are unwilling to change prices, the only way to skirt that monopoly is through "piracy". And this goes beyond the entertainment industries.


no it's not , it is through regulation, which is not done by the people supposed to do it. Piracy is illegal , it would be like saying , since i cant afford these shoes i must fight "monopoly" by stealing them ... uber stupid. There are a lot of independant filmakers out here , that sell their films for less than the itunes prices , why dont you support them if big hollywood studios are so evil ? Same thing for music, people download the last PSY or lady gaga , but cant support emerging artists that are ready to sell their art for far less than any itunes download...


> it would be like saying , since i cant afford these shoes i must fight "monopoly" by stealing them

more like "these shoes are overpriced so I'm going get the pattern and start making my own copies of them and share them with my friends". you aren't affecting someone else's possession of something when you pirate it, you are just not paying the owner for a copy.

the argument is around how many of those pirated copies actually represent lost sales (and most people who've looked at the issue and aren't in some way employed by the entertainment industry think it's probably a slim percentage)

as for supporting independents, while what you're saying is probably true for music, independent TV and film as a whole just haven't reached anywhere near the quality. the instances in those mediums of high quality content produced independently are still very much the exception. in music, independents have been producing as good or better than the major labels for a long time.


You just do it because it is unlikely you get caught. That's the only reason you do it ,because it is easy. If cops were watching every bit of file you were downloading and arrest you if you downloaded something illegal you would not bother downloading anything illegaly. Likewise for people that steal in shops they are confident they are not going to get caught.

download illegaly === easy with next to 0 consequence , that's why people do it.

When you buy a soft or a song online you dont buy an object but a license that gives you the right to listen it, if you obtain the song or the soft illegally you are violating that license , and you dont get to chose what the terms of the license is. If you dont agree with the license dont download period.

Do i download things illegaly , yes, but i dont try to justify my behavior with stupid arguments to free my mind from any guilt like you do. It's illegal , be a grown up , at least acknowlegde that fact.


>Piracy is illegal , it would be like saying , since i cant afford these shoes i must fight "monopoly" by stealing them ... uber stupid.

So what if it is illegal? It is the moral responsibility of a citizen to disobey laws they believe are unjust. If I have strong convictions that piracy laws are unjust, not only do I not care if they are illegal, but I will actively encourage other people to ignore these laws. This is just one way of achieving the goal of change.

Your other suggestion is completely right though, we should also be willing to support the artists whose values align with our own.


> It is the moral responsibility of a citizen to disobey laws they believe are unjust.

Oh, come on. We're not talking about summary execution of Muslims or cutting off a child's hand for stealing bread; we're talking about twenty bucks for a movie.


> So what if it is illegal?

If it is illegal it is illegal , end of discussion , want to change the law ? vote for a change.

FYI illegal =/= immoral , the law has nothing to do with morality. The law is the law , if you want to live in a country driven by morality move to Saudi Arabia and watch the consequences of your stupid statement.


I would buy a lot more movies if they were < $10 for the HD version. My wish list has dozens of movies that I'm just waiting to be on sale.

The other thing that bugs the shit out of me is they don't have an upgrade path from SD to HD or whatever's next.

That and for some reason the apple tv uses an independent wish list for some crazy reason. They make it easier to buy movies, then they make it stupid to find the movies you want.


I think $10 sounds ok for HD. SD should be around $5. I think one of the reasons the don't price lower is rentals. If they charged what I suggest I guess it would severely cut into the revenue they make from rentals on iTunes.


Yeah $10 is alright, between the packs and the sales that's about what I pay anyway. Digital rentals look like a scam to drive purchases, there's no reason they should even exist anymore just sell us a film or a subscription.


I would buy movies on iTunes if the prices were more reasonable. US prices are typically $20 to buy and $5 to rent. I would buy movies if they were $5. To rent, the price would need to be closer to $0.99.


US prices are typically $20 to buy and $5 to rent.

It's just madness. I want to think about what film I want to watch, not about whether I'll spend the money.

The ironic thing is that my monthly spend would be somewhere around 40 or 50 Euro if the prices were at stupid-la-la-thinking-land levels. Somewhat of an improvement from the big, fat €0 as at present.


Which is exactly why Apple never made Apple TV more than a hobby product, they have never been able to win the battle with the studios (who see the record labels as getting "screwed" by iTunes) budge on the price point. The sad fact that I think we'll have to come to terms with is that, while the music industry was able to be more or less coerced into charging fairer prices for digital content, the studios aren't going to ever go for it and so we won't see an evolution there until the existing players are replaced. Netflix starting to produce their own content is a good first step, let's hope it continues.


The studios already charge fair prices for digital content. The $5 DVD rack at Target is great. Sales at Amazon and other places can be even better. They just make sure it isn't convenient to get that fairly priced digital content.

A certain amount of this is expected. The high fixed and low marginal costs of their product makes some price discrimination natural. The problem, as I see it, is that they're trying to hold onto the existing forms of discrimination rather than thinking through what makes sense from first principles now that digital distribution is an important part of the picture.


When the RIAA and MPAA claim that their profits suffer from piracy, one should be skeptical. People have been sharing files on the Internet for decades at this point -- what kind of company can lose money for decades without going bankrupt? There are industries that were bankrupted by the Internet, like the film camera and development industry. The MPAA is just greedy, they always have been; they are the ones stealing from artists:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting


> what kind of company can lose money for decades without going bankrupt?

By your argument, embezzlement and tax fraud and retail theft don't exist either. Just because a loss isn't fatal to an industry doesn't mean it has no effect.


"When the RIAA and MPAA claim that their profits suffer from piracy, one should be skeptical. People have been sharing files on the Internet for decades at this point -- what kind of company can lose money for decades without going bankrupt?"

Both are not one company. They are multiple companies working together. They didn't go out of business because they mostly changed with the new trends (Songs can now be purchased for 99 cents and streamed, etc).

"The MPAA is just greedy"

Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black. The MPAA may be greedy, but the hordes of people taking music and giving excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn't have to pay for it is pure greed (and entitlement).

"they are the ones stealing from artists:"

Sigh. I'm tired of hearing this. Artists have many ways to promote their stuff online. They don't have to sign a contract, but they choose to.

It's never been easy to make money as an artist...and piracy makes it even more difficult (especially when you don't have the backing of a major label).

I guess they don't deserve to make a living...and instead entertain you to your exact specifications.


>the hordes of people taking music and giving excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn't have to pay for it is pure greed (and entitlement)

I don't know. If you want to separate 'greed' and 'entitlement' I would say that someone pirating a dozen movies is certainly full of entitlement but I wouldn't say they're any greedier than the person that buys the same dozen movies.


"They didn't go out of business because they mostly changed with the new trends"

Which is exactly the point: why should we pay them any credence when they attack the Internet or claim that new technologies will kill them, when all they need is an iota of creativity to figure out how to remain profitable as the realities of the market change?

"The MPAA may be greedy, but the hordes of people taking music and giving excuse after excuse as to why they shouldn't have to pay for it is pure greed (and entitlement)."

It is not really on the same level. On the one hand, you have people (mostly teenagers and college students) who want immediate gratification and do not have terribly much money available, who are getting their entertainment in the most convenient form available to them. On the other hand, you have people who could have a comfortable retirement at any time, who are engaged in a coordinated and well-planned strategy to extract that maximum amount of money possible from every conceivable source of revenue, who routinely bribe politicians into passing laws that promote their business interests, and who have been working for many years to destroy the most important communications tool ever developed in order to avoid having to change an immensely profitable business.

Really though, the greed argument is silly. We expect corporations to be greedy; the purpose of a business is to make money, not to be nice, and we accepted that fact long ago. Unfortunately, there is this weird expectation that individual computer users are supposed to be thinking about copyrights before they perform one of the most basic computing tasks possible. Copyright was never designed to be a form of property, and there is no way for a system that requires a judge to decide what is or is not a violation to be applied en masse. If we want to continue to use copyrights to ensure the availability of and to promote the progress of art (let's not kid ourselves about science -- scientists do not need copyrights to ensure their access to published work in this day and age, and copyrights now serve only to restrict access to scientific research), we need to reform the entire system: copyright violations need to be treated like parking violations, with a small but still annoying fine that must be paid whenever a person is caught. Even the MPAA realizes that the lengthy court proceedings needed to decide copyright cases are just not appropriate for the case of downloading; why do you think they spend so much money and effort on DRM?

"They don't have to sign a contract, but they choose to."

The problem is not just bad contracts; the movie industry is notorious for its deceptive accounting tactics, which are designed to deprive artists who signed seemingly good contracts of the money they are entitled to. We are talking about a deliberate effort to avoid paying actors, scriptwriters, and others involved in the creative part of creating a movie their share of the profits by claiming there was no profit, that the movie was actually a loss, by siphoning enormous amounts of money into shell companies for nebulous services. Sure, the big-name actors are not the ones who suffer, because their agents know better than to sign a contract that promises a share in the profit; they get contracts that promise a share of the revenue.

The MPAA cannot be taken seriously when they claim that downloaders are the reason up-and-coming artists and actors are making so little money while they continue to engage in that sort of accounting practice. It is difficult to make the case that every downloader would have paid full price had they not downloaded the movie; it is not difficult to show that artists lose money when movie studios lie about the profitability of a movie. Hollywood accounting predates downloading and even home taping by many years; artists suffered as much before as they do now, and they are suffering for the same reasons.


The MPAA & RIAA are blind. They'd make a LOT more money if buying the real thing was easier than 1) spending time hunting for it online; 2) waiting for it to download; and 3) if it weren't overpriced. Same for games. $60 for a damn game? Valve's shown that $5 prices lead to massive increases in sales over $20+.


I think you're oversimplifying. Millions of people line up to buy the latest Call of Duty game at $60, but I don't think the market for those games suddenly doubles if you sell it at $30. Especially when many of those $30 buyers were presumably already going to buy it at $30 anyway in a few months.


I don't think the market for those games suddenly doubles if you sell it at $30

Don't forget the support costs as well; they end up with double the number of people to support, but for the same amount of money.


Steam has also shown that if the price is good enough many people will buy it and then never play it.


I think it depends on how good and popular your game is. If there's only a market for 10 million Diablo 3 players, then making the game $10 won't expand your market to 60 million.

However, if you have a pretty unknown franchise/game with maybe a potential of 1 million users at $60, then lowering the price to $30 may very well double or triple your market.


If you product is junk then nobody will buy it (within experimental error). Steam sales consistently pull in a heap-load of sales and there's been lots more this year than the previous. I think if say COD9 would be $10, not $60 it would sell many more copies; go below $10 and it's at the "whatever dude" pricepoint.

Regional pricing could also be used, if the company is greedy. People living in low-income countries aren't really going to be able to afford $60 for a game, but it were $10 for them, they might.


If Hollywood wants to make MORE money. Let me watch NEW movies at home.

Why at home?

1) Bathroom breaks

2) People's heads aren't in the way

3) No blurry screens

4) No crappy audio

5) Snacks I want

6) Quieter. No kids crying or cell phones, etc.

I am willing to spend the same price. I hate going to movie theater these days... I just wait for the DVD (or Bluray).


The problem with this is they can't enforce the amount of people watching. It could be just you or maybe you and 10 friends.


This is one of the reasons that Disney initially disliked the video business.

Disney have been involved in a number of weird IP protection stuff. They developed a cassette that could only be rewound with a special device. It was supposed to be a "watch once per payment" mechanism. They also developed a DVD that would oxidise slowly once it got contact with air. They'd burn a movie, seal it in a special case, and ship it to people. Once you opened the packet you'd get about 2 days to watch the movie.


There is a technical solution to that, for example one based on the patent mentioned here:

http://www.businessinsider.com/microsoft-patent-uses-kinect-...

EDIT: Hey, don't shoot the messenger.


Exactly what I want in my life. A way for companies to track me and my friends inside my own home.


Man, since when does a relevant link to a clever solution to a technical problem get downvoted on HN? Y'all need to get over it.


You could always have your friends hide behind a blanket to confuse the sensor.


I can see this backfiring pretty bad...


The future does not look promising.


Tough. They don't need a mechanism to enforce that no-one ever watches one of their films without paying them.


Why does it matter how many people watch? I guess I don't understand this logic.

I would pay $30 USD to watch a movie from my couch that is currently in the theaters. Maybe a couple friends are over (another couple) but that total is 4... not 40.

I would bet major releases would see people throwing parties at their homes. But then again, is it a problem? Maybe raise the price a bit?


It matters when comparing to cinema tickets. Let's say a ticket is normally $10 for the sake of a nice round number, and they charge $30 to get the film at home. If you want to watch on your own it's expensive, on the other hand if you have 3 friends over to watch with you then they have lost $10.

Obviously it's not quite that simple, as some of those 3 friends might not have gone to the cinema - but maybe they all would have.


Solution to this - evaluate your expenses and adjust price constantly. This way if it turned out that it is usually 10+ friends watching particular movie, charge for it 10x more. (but not 10x more what you want to get from one person, but rather what this person want to pay you)


That doesn't sound like a problem to me...


So? That's like saying they can't enforce how many people read a book once they sell it to someone.

Of course they can enforce this with digital books, but they shouldn't be able to, and people should protest against it.


Multiple people can't read a book simultaneously; would be consecutively or time sharing which isn't social. Theatres enforce a payment per customer per view and is thus obviously favoured by the movie industry. Books have no equivalent. You're comparing apples and oranges.


"If Hollywood wants to make MORE money. Let me watch NEW movies at home."

Is there even a point to watching new movies? Hollywood is not all that creative these days. The same plot plays out over and over; they are remaking movies that are less than a decade old; actions scenes are formulaic, sex scenes are formulaic, and the way in which scenes are composed is formulaic. When movie studios run out of ideas about what to copy, they just create formulaic sequels to movies that were OK the first time around (Fast Five? Really?).

Hollywood's problem is quality. They spend enormous amounts of money on improved special effects, when special effects are not really what needed to be improved. If you can predict how the story ends (or count the number of possible endings on your fingers), the movie probably isn't worth paying for.


> If you can predict how the story ends (or count the number of possible endings on your fingers), the movie probably isn't worth paying for.

How on earth can you say this? New tellings of old stories are a — the — foundational element of human storytelling since the dawn of time.

Can you give an example of a story whose ending can't be reduced to a few possibilities given the beginning? That doesn't make people shout "What a tweest!"?


I think you are right, but I'm still going to give you Pulp Fiction as an example.


Really? From the first scene, is it so hard to predict "One of the diners has a gun, but will let the robbers go?"

But seriously, I see what you're saying: Pulp Fiction has a multilayered narrative that is complex and consistently surprising. And I think it's a good one to highlight my point that it's the journey, not the destination, and that "can you predict the ending" is a silly classifier.


Agreed. I stick to the foreign movies section of netflix these days. Hollywood movies have gotten to be utter garbage. I think maybe I go to the movies once a year.


3) No blurry screens

4) No crappy audio

These are the most important and frustrating points for me. What's the point of paying to use a professional set-up if it all goes to hell in a handbasket the minute the switch is flipped?

I've sat in a cinema where the volume was so low, the audience could hardly hear a thing. A few shouts of "Turn it up!" went unanswered, and there wasn't an usher anywhere in sight.

At the end, no-one went and complained. I'm just as guilty (my excuse: crushing social anxiety when it comes to complaining in a foreign language) for not doing so, but maybe this is why: not enough people complain/stop going/ask for refunds, and so the circus continues.


Ask for a refund.

I've bailed on films where half the screen was out of focus or, inexplicably, they were using the wrong lens and everything was crunched. Sometimes all you have to do is point it out and they'll fix it, other times they'll refund it no questions asked.

If they don't feel it financially, they won't care to fix it.


Ask for a refund.

Sometimes all you have to do is point it out and they'll fix it

As I hinted, I would have done so at the time if I'd had the language skills to confidently say what was wrong (and understand their suggested resollution). (and if I'd been able to find an usher as well, for that matter).


so...you went to one theater in a foreign country and couldn't complain about it and now all movies in all theaters have terrible quality?

I see a new movie at least once/month and have had little issues with the audio or the screen.


so...you went to one theater in a foreign country and couldn't complain about it and now all movies in all theaters have terrible quality

Nope - I go to many theatres here in Poland. Now I'm fine with complaining where necessary, but at the time my Polish wasn't up to it. The point I wanted - and failed - to illustrate was more that no-one complains, and so the cinemas get away with it far more often than they should.


Movie theaters are extremely expensive setups (proprietary digital projectors, playback/DRM systems, licensing) usually operating at cost - profit comes from those $10 popcorn bags.

Along with digital projection (not much work to do), that means there might be one or two operators for a dozen screens. The projection room also has noise blocking, so no one is listening or looking when you shout. It's more likely that the ticket/security crew outside the door listens and calls the operators, but you have to shout really loud :)


> I've sat in a cinema where the volume was so low

I've sat in a cinema where the volume was so high the audio setup was saturating unless that was a quiet, whispery scene. The film was really good, so we stayed. Although silent, I took action: it was the last time I went to a theatre since three years.


When adjusted for inflation, it's not a box office record; that honor belongs to 2002:

http://movies.stackexchange.com/questions/2386/annual-revenu...


That's just box office though, the more interesting figure is total revenue including disc sales etc.


And legal revenue, I'd love to see that.


This same pattern plays out in so many different places.

1. Massive concentration of power (in this case, the entertainment industry. I think 5 corporations control 96% of commercial media [2] - TV/Movie/etc.)

2. Artificially powerful threat (in this case "pirates") always JUST about to destroy/harm/impact/irreparably damage #1.

3. #1 is justified in fighting a war on #2 -- physically, legally, financially, whatever.

4. For all intents and purposes, the stronger #2 (the "threat") seems, the easier job #1 has justifying ANY recourse. If #2 (the threat) isn't that strong on its own, I would imagine it be in the best interest of #1 to make it appear so and even help bolster it if necessary.

5. There is so much rhetoric, confusion, mix-facts, misreporting and fuzzy data being seeded and organically produced on the topic of "#1 vs #2" that it is impossible to cleanly and clearly make heads or tales of any of it -- well #1 has a point, but so does #2, but #2 is doing something illegal, but #1 is also doing illegal things... ad infinitum.

6. #1 continues to pump energy and complexity into #5 which engages, exhausts and overwhelms us until it becomes noise and we learn to tune it out. Think of a person standing in the middle of New York as opposed to the middle of a corn field -- our brains are wired to tune out repetitive audio and visual queues -- we are tuned to spot differentiation. #1 doesn't have to _hide_ anything per se, it just needs to amplify it and muddy the noise enough that it becomes repetitive.

There are examples of this same strategy played out over and over and over again all over the world in all nooks and crannies of our lives - oil, pharmaceuticals, electronics, governments, publishers, music, farming/food, etc.

I would expect this strategy is as old as mud, probably starting with its roots in false-flag[1] campaigns in the annals of history, but it works and it has been refined and continues to work -- just like the format for romantic comedy movies continues to work even though we've seen it 100,000 times and the format for super-hero movies works.

We are incredibly manipulatable. Our convictions are disturbingly fragile and the worst part of it is that most of us are lead to believe exactly the opposite and completely reject the possibility that they are.

I think _that_ is what makes us so susceptible to this type engineering and why it is so successful.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_flag

[2] http://www.fastcodesign.com/multisite_files/codesign//post-i...


You're buying into and regurgitating the myth that the world reduces into "good vs. evil" and that the difficulty involved in making sense of what's going on is not because the world is inherently complex but because somebody is pulling the wool over your eyes. "Wake up, sheeple!"

I mean, really: if you're going to come so close to having a clue, why not just take that one extra step? Why does it always have to come back to declaring indifference a sin foist upon people by the Great Satan of the week?


It's a good point and unfortunately one I figured would get confused with what I wrote so I hummed and hawed about writing anything.

I don't think you can distill the world down into "Good vs Evil" -- it would be easier if you could.

What I do think is that power has an innate tendency to protect itself and concentrate and the mechanisms by which it does this _anywhere_ are all strikingly similar -- i.e. if you put them all in a pot and boiled off the water, you would maybe 3-5 different ways for doing this.


But think of how much more they'd be making if we couldn't get the movie at home and had to go to a theater to watch it.

I'm not even sure if I'm serious or sarcastic on this one.


So, what this is really about is not the destruction of the movie business and western culture, its all about the movie business thinking its not making enough money. It should be making more. Making great profit is not enough. Thay must have more.

Well, me too. Can the government get behind that please?


"for the first time in history domestic box office grosses surpassed $10.7 billion"

As the article says, especially when taking inflation into account: The End Is Near for Hollywood. All due to piracy.


All due to piracy? If you look at the 10 top grossing films of 2012, we have: 3 comic book movies (The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Amazing Spiderman) where the characters have already had several movies, 3 movies that are either the 3rd or 4th in an original series (Madagascar, Ice Age, and MiB), and 4 based on books (Twilight, Skyfall, The Hobbit, and Hunger Games). Maybe people are tired of rehashes of the same IP over and over again, especially when they spread one story over several movies, just to get more money out of you? (I'm looking at you, The Hobbit)


If your argument was valid, then the top 10 grossing films would surely not be the ones which are recycled IP.


Not necessarily. Only if you assume the people that go to movies are a good representation of people in general, which I doubt is true. Considering how important the teenage demographic is (why fewer movies are release with an R rating nowadays, with some movies getting re-edited to go from an R to PG-13 rating), I'd bet teenagers are over-represented from a few years ago. And you'd have to assume any time someone goes to the theaters they pick the best movie for their tastes, not just the "safe bet" on a sequel or the one they've seen the most advertising for.

Top 10 grossing was probably a bad pick, but I don't know a better way to measure the general output of movie studios without considering every movie released, even those shown in like 2 theaters worldwide.


* I'd bet teenagers are over-represented from a few years ago.*

Teenagers are a smaller portion of the moviegoing market than they were 10 years ago. Smartphones, videogames, and various other distractions have cut down on their numbers. [See Variety, L.A. Times, and any other entertainment-focused news source.]

And you'd have to assume any time someone goes to the theaters they pick the best movie for their tastes, not just the "safe bet" on a sequel or the one they've seen the most advertising for.

That has always been true of movies. But as it turns out, many people's tastes align with IP they are already familiar with: they know the characters, the plots, etc., and so it is easier for them to judge whether the movie in question will satisfy their interests.


Big box office numbers don't really prove or disprove much.




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